Slow Start Dooms Syracuse at Virginia Tech

The Orange fell behind by double digits early, and could not mount a comeback on the road.
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Syracuse went up 4-2 in the first two minutes of their game at Virginia Tech, and it was all downhill from there. The Hokies responded with a 16-2 run over the next five minutes to take a 12 point lead. Tech would hold a 22 point advantage at halftime, and that proved to be too much for Syracuse to overcome. The Orange fell 76-68 and dropped to 11-6 (8-6) on the season. 

Virginia Tech shot 55% in the first half while Syracuse struggled to hit their shots at just 35%. The Hokies were hot from the outside, hitting 50% of their threes in the first half while the Orange hit just two of its first 11 three point attempts. 

"Our starts are shaky," head coach Quentin Hillsman said after the game. "We've got to find a way to start better. We can't keep digging ourselves this kind of hole and try to fight back every game, to get back in the game." 

In Syracuse's four most recent losses, they fell behind by 14 at halftime, 16 at the end of the first quarter, 20 at halftime and now 22 at the half in what is becoming a disturbing trend on the road. 

Syracuse made a run in the second half, trimming the 22 point halftime lead to 13 at the end of the third quarter and to as low as nine on two separate occasions in the fourth. Each time, Virginia Tech had an answer. After an Emily Engstler transition layup with 6:50 left to play, Elizabeth Kitley scored four straight points to push the Hokie lead back to 13. A Digna Strautmane layup cut it back to nine with 3:33 left, but Cayla King hit a three seconds later. 

"At the end of the day, the real story of the first half was that we didn't make shots," Hillsman said. "You've got to make shots to be able to press." 

Tiana Mangakahia led Syracuse with 18 points and seven assists. Kamilla Cardoso also had 18 to go along with five rebounds. Kiara Lewis struggled and finished just 1-9 from the floor, her only made basket coming with under three minutes to play. 

Virginia Tech was led by Aisha Sheppard, who put in a game-high 23 points and dished out five assists. Elizabeth Kitley added 18 points, while Cayla King and Georgia Amoore each had 14. 

Syracuse is next in action against Boston College on Thursday. That game tips at 8:00 p.m. eastern and will be broadcast on the ACC Network.